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The Guardian, now famous for its abilities to get a hold of damning secret documents, has released a pile of of files today that outline major funding issues at the right-wing lobby group, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Most interesting, is ALEC's operation called the "Prodigal Son Project" outlining the organization's financial troubles and the plan to woo back more than 40 corporate members.

According to the Guardian, the ALEC leaked documents show that:

• ALEC has set up a separate sister group called the "Jeffersonian Project" amid concerns over possible government inquiries into whether its activities constitute lobbying – which would threaten its tax-exempt status;

• the network has suffered a decline in its membership among state-based Republicans and among big corporations following the Trayvon Martin controversy;

• its income raised from conferences, membership fees and donations has fallen short, leaving the group with a potential funding crisis;

• a draft agreement prepared for the board meeting proposed that Alec's chairs in each of the 50 states, who are drawn from senior legislators, should be required to put the interests of the organisation first, thus setting up a possible conflict of interest with the voters who elected them;

• Alec also considered extending its remit to include the gambling industry, particularly online gambling, as a possible source of new members and revenue.

All this is happening while ALEC is holding their 2013 "States and Nation Policy Summit." I am sure the Guardian article is causing quite the buzz in the halls there.

ALEC is using the twitter hashtag #alecsnps if you want to jump in the conversation there.

Originally posted to KGrandia on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 01:17 PM PST.

Also republished by American Legislative Transparency Project and "Progressive Politics:Tennessee Style" (PPTS).

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Comment Preferences

  •  The Guardian is in league with Anonymous! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weck, CTDemoFarmer, NancyWH, RUNDOWN

    It is the only explanation :P

    http://callatimeout.blogspot.com/

    by DAISHI on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 01:20:56 PM PST

    •  Wikileaks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RUNDOWN

      A better explanation is its association with Julian Assange and so Wikileaks, and with Edward Snowden and so freelance leakers everywhere.

      Anonymous is an overlapping set with those (or their sources) that is different because its (ad hoc, transient) members organize to shut down websites, though data disclosure can be a part of that operation.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 02:54:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  amazing stat: at one point ALEC had over 2200 (20+ / 0-)

    state and local lawmakers as their members or almost 25% of all elected officials.  Now since Trayvon  affair has highlighted their role in state and local government, they have lost about 750 members and 80 corporate members.  Also they are feeling the downturn in contributions so it appears there may be justice

    •  We have to remember that a couple of million (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terabytes, eyesoars, walkshills, RUNDOWN

      in lost revenue for ALEC is chump change to the Koch brothers and their interlocking financial shell game of think tanks, billionaire back scratchers and others who subscribe to the Friedman principle that freedom is a commodity to be bought and sold, and that ultimately, the most freedom can be attained with the most money, which to me explains why the SCOTUS equates money with speech, the more money you have the more speech you can do.

      Back to my main point, if ALEC can no longer properly fund its organization, but the Koch's want it to continue its nefarious activities, the Koch's will find a way to get the necessary dollars to ALEC.

      Republicans are like alligators. All mouth and no ears.

      by Ohiodem1 on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 06:48:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  couldn't happen to a bigger group of thugs. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NancyWH, sfbob, RUNDOWN
  •  Why are we not hearing more about the (6+ / 0-)

    "trainwreck" that is ALEC in the news?  Why not report on a real scandal instead of so many fake ones?

    “The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day.” Gloria Steinem

    by ahumbleopinion on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 02:07:11 PM PST

  •  T&R'd. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, walkshills

    There's some nuclear shit in there.

    "Well, yeah, the Constitution is worth it if you succeed." - Nancy Pelosi, 6/30/07 // "Succeed?" At what?

    by nailbender on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 02:28:34 PM PST

  •  It seems to me Family Koch ... and their friends (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, chantedor

    ... well maybe "friends" is too squishy a word ... "Allies and Fellow Travelers" could fund ALEC out of the loose change they get back whenever they buy a Redstate legislator ...

    •  Again. Let's be clear. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      walkshills

      The Kochs have single-handedly prevented bankruptcy for both ALEC and their progenitor, The Heritage Foundation before.

      Nurse Kelley says my writing is brilliant and my soul is shiny - who am I to argue?
      Economic
      Left/Right: -7.75
      Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.51

      by Bud Fields on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 03:54:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Impeachable Treason (6+ / 0-)
    a draft agreement prepared for the board meeting proposed that Alec's chairs in each of the 50 states, who are drawn from senior legislators, should be required to put the interests of the organisation first, thus setting up a possible conflict of interest with the voters who elected them;

    That sounds like treason if a legislator agrees, a violation of their public oath. Especially since ALEC includes foreigners, representing foreign corporations. Every legislator member should be impeached on those grounds, and any who either agreed or acted accordingly should be convicted.

    ALEC's execs and directors proposing it sounds like sedition. Jail.

    And certainly grounds for dissolving the corporation, and instantly investigating any successors or "sister" (front) corporations.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 02:52:04 PM PST

    •  Calm (5+ / 0-)

      down the rhetoric, and you do have something there.

      Sedition, no.  Lobbying yes.

      I don't currently have the source for this, but back in the 1980s, ALEC got called out on this in New Hampshire.  One of their state chairs (I think it was Sen. Eleanor Podles) was compelled register as a lobbyist for the group. I currently don't have access to lexis-nexus, but there was an article about this back then.

      With this new dark money IRS reg on the way, and the push towards creating a 501c4 wing of ALEC, state chair may be placed in the position of registering as lobbyists again.

      http://www.economicpopulist.org

      by ManfromMiddletown on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 03:23:20 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  NH Sec of State lists registered lobbyists (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        walkshills, murrayewv

        I think. I might be thinking of Wisconsin.

        Some states changed their registration requirements so that only paid lobbyists had to register. ALEC rewards their lobbyists for "other" services and "education". Pure evil.

        This time, ALEC is busy with reorganizing and renaming their money laundering cabal. Thank you, Lawrence O'Donnell. ...exclusively for public charitable purposes... [words to that effect]

        "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

        by GrumpyOldGeek on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 04:18:33 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  DocG - it's not treason and it's not sedition (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe, geekydee

      Let's not try and criminalize politics. Progressives never win on that turf. The "sunlight" attacks on ALEX have been very successful. In addition, there are legal challenges regarding lobbying and other ALEX activities. That's how to fight a political battle, not trying to find a rogue DA to start a criminal witch hunt.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 05:36:36 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  But, but, but (0+ / 0-)

        if you outlaw politics, only outlaws will become politicians..  wait, most already are  :(

        ''The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security for our Republic.'' - Justice Hugo L. Black of the Supreme Court

        by geekydee on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 06:01:44 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Swear Allegiance to Foreigers Over Constituents (0+ / 0-)

        A senator signs a secret agreement with a corporation that has foreign owners to always put the owners' interest ahead of their constituents from their state.

        That's nothing but politics?

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 06:52:58 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  DocG - no Senator would ever sign such an (0+ / 0-)

          agreement. They aren't that stupid.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 06:59:18 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That Stupid (0+ / 0-)

            As this diary reports from the leaked docs:

            a draft agreement prepared for the board meeting proposed that Alec's chairs in each of the 50 states, who are drawn from senior legislators, should be required to put the interests of the organisation first,

            I don't think they're not that stupid. And there are plenty of representatives and state officials who most certainly are. This would be just one secret agreement among many that bind them to the gravy train.

            "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

            by DocGonzo on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 12:36:51 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  DocD - they might agree to the policy (0+ / 0-)

              but would never leave a written trial. They aren't that stupid. Whether such an agreement would be actionable would depend on how it was drafted. My guess that even the current draft is crafted in a fashion that makes sure it does not violate any federal or state laws.

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 01:35:56 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  Not exactly new, ALEC in panic mode months ago. (5+ / 0-)

    Leaked? More like somebody sent some documents to the Guardian as if they were leaking something. Or something.

    I welcome the exposure about ALEC no matter the source.

    Remember that ALEC is essentially 50 organizations, one in each US state, plus US territories, plus a huge international presence. They are less effective with the US Congress. Simply put, Congress has their own resources capable of producing legislation. State legislators don't. Change a word or two, submit a bill, and make it law... See? Joe Schbltk is doin' shit....

    Their Jeffersonian Project was created as a knee-jerk reaction to the IRS Scandal. The one where the wingers all but admitted they didn't deserve tax-exempt status. I read something about this project back then. It might have been posted on the ALEC web site or it was a topic on their last sooper-secret meeting agenda. I just dont' recall... But this isn't exactly breaking news, Guardian.

    The fact is that there are insiders who are actively leaking lots of ALEC internals. One genuine hero in the fight against ALEC laws nobody wants or needs is now Wisconsin's US Congressman, Mark Pocan. He joined ALEC in his previous job as a WI state legislator and ranted about the evil on the record.

    And we can and have taken actions that expose and shrink ALEC.

    Here's an example from North Dakota, This little fiasco started before January, 2013 and ramped up quickly.

    So this article was posted at the NorthDecoder.com and the fun started right away.

    Sure enough, it seems that ALEC would like to get rid of laws about asbestos and other businessprofit-crushing nonsense from the little people who live in ND. A little ALEC-sponsored bill they called the "Innocent Successor" asbestos liability law. Yeah, sure. It sets it up so that buying a business that has asbestos liabilities won't pass those liabilities on the the new owner.

    Evil shit gift wrapped in asbestos.

    All it took was one diligent person who tracked lobbyists when they invaded Bismark. One little problem was that these folks were lobbyists for Crown, Cork, and Seal but they claimed they were from ALEC. Anything to stay under the radar...

    ALEC has a habit of not bothering to register their lobbyists. They claim that they aren't paid. They are, of course, but the money is for other services, not lobbying. Providing free beer and wine, for example. This is money laundering and bribery. Plain and simple. In this case, it's also fraud.

    So what if they didn't fill out that pesky lobbyist registration paperwork and pay the fees. The legislature didn't care. They know where the beer comes from... And the free beer only costs $250 for a legislator. Such a deal, eh?

    Yeah. ALEC is hurting for cash. Good.

    It takes a lot of work to dig out the dirt and find undeniable evidence. But it starts by just paying attention to your states' legislative schedules and proposals. If it stinks, it's probably covered with ALEC. There are more anti-ALEC groups out there than you might think.

    Even The Bismark Tribune picked it up.
    So did our own Ohiodem1 in this diary.
    And the Voters Legislative Transparency Project wrote it up here.
    This report (pdf) from the American Association For Justice spells out more details about the evil behavior of ALEC and their thugs.

    But this asbestos stuff is just about North Dakota, right?

    Not a chance.

    As of May 2010, the bill that provides asbestos liability immunity was enacted in Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin and introduced in Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.

    That was over three years ago....

    The the ND law was challenged.

    "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

    by GrumpyOldGeek on Tue Dec 03, 2013 at 04:07:35 PM PST

    •  so was that ALEC in WV and other states... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GrumpyOldGeek

      or those asbestos industry companies?

      You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

      by murrayewv on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 05:08:11 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's both ALEC and industry lobbyists (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        murrayewv

        ALEC doesn't employ lobbyists directly. Their membership includes a minority of state legislators and a majority of lobbyists (ALEC calls them industry reps).

        An asbestos industry lobbyist crafted this anti-liability bill and presented it to one of the ALEC special interest groups sometime in the past. I'm guessing that this may have been the lobbyists for Crown in ND, but there's really no way to know for sure. Regardless, the con artist lobbyists sold the snake oil to a captive audience of Republican state legislators and were backed up by like-minded anti-EPA pro-pollution types. All in secret meetings and without public or opposition input, of course.

        ALEC promotes the boilerplate bills to each of the 50 states. If the bill actually gets traction and passes into law in one or more states, ALEC turns the pressure up to eleven. That's why they gather a captive right wing audience. That's why this stuff is credited to a group and not a specific industry lobbyist. That's why the lobbyists try to avoid registering as lobbyists.

        It is a real conspiracy, not a theory. We know their names and can track much of the money through their laundries. Koch, Pope, Bradley, etc. The usual big money sources...

        Any time you see a bill showing up as a surprise and in multiple states seemingly all at once, it's ALEC. This is what ALEC does.

        The stand your ground nonsense is one of the more well-known examples. But that was just one of the thousands of boilerplate bills that ALEC has been pushing for the last few decades. The asbestos liability bill is one of them. ALEC has been pushing back all product liability laws since forever.

        So yeah. ALEC was the primary driver in WV and all these states in full support of the asbestos industry special interest lobbyists.  

        "Never wrestle with a pig: you get dirty and the pig enjoys it"

        by GrumpyOldGeek on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 12:52:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  well that sucks.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          GrumpyOldGeek

          I didn't know that and it kind of pisses me off- a lot.  Now I have to investigate who were my specific jerk legislators.

          You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

          by murrayewv on Wed Dec 04, 2013 at 01:03:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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